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Things I Want My Daughters to Know: A Novel Paperback – January 20, 2009

26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Noble (The Reading Group) hits her stride in her tearjerker fourth novel. Before Barbara Forbes, a mother of four, succumbs to terminal cancer, she leaves words of wisdom for her four daughters in the form of letters to each of them. In the year following Barbara's death, her daughters draw strength from her words and from each other as they move forward with their lives. Lisa, the eldest, is advised to "let someone look after [her]" for a change. Jennifer, "fragile and hard to reach," struggles with an unraveling marriage. Free-spirited Amanda is thrown for a loop by a family secret, and teenaged Hannah, experiencing her first taste of rebellion, is reminded that she still has a lot of growing up to do. Though Barbara's life-is-short aphorisms are nothing new, her sharp wit and distinctive voice is a nice complement to the four nuanced stories of coping with death. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The terrible impact of bodies falling from the sky, the shrill thwack of a golf ball hit out-of-bounds, the elusively tender caress upon a faithful dog’s head. Such tactile, sensory imagery infuses Amend’s lustrous collection of short fiction that celebrates the forlorn and isolated, the disgruntled and misunderstood, the least guarded and most apprehensive among us. With sly humor and subtle insight, Amend traces the uncertain trajectory of love from devotion to deception, blossom to breakup, through relationships both casual and deep. An inner-city schoolteacher tries desperately to break down the barriers between insensitivity and empathy in “Dominion over Every Erring Thing,” while a writer of cybererotica is surprised by a callous lack of loyalty in “The People You Know Best.” In a world where husbands begrudgingly support wives and sisters inexplicably betray brothers, where lovers appear and disappear at whim, Amend’s dialogue is crisp and pure, her observations nuanced and keen, her understanding of the human condition buoyant and clear. --Carol Haggas --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 Reprint edition (January 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006168659X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061686597
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,199,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Noble is the internationally bestselling author of The Reading Group, The Friendship Test, Alphabet Weekends, and Things I Want My Daughters to Know. She lives in New York City with her husband and their two daughters.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kathy K VINE VOICE on April 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although I liked "Things I Want My Daughters to Know," I didn't love it. As a daughter who lost my own mother at an early age, some of the story felt too artificial to me and the pat, happy endings for all the main characters were just a tad too unrealistic for me. Where I feel the author went wrong was by commencing this book in medias res (in the middle of things), after the mother has already died. As a result, the reader never gets the opportunity to genuinely experience the bond between mother and daughters. Therefore, an emotional disconnect exists.

What Noble does extremely well, though, is develop believable characters. In each of the daughters I could see shades of myself and how I dealt with the grief of losing my own mom. Lisa, the oldest, is "too strong for her own good" and afraid to let anyone love her. Jennifer, "proud and intent on emotional independence," strangles herself in love relationships that have long run their course. Amanda, the free spirit, uses travel as a means of escaping the real world. And Hannah, the teen who loses her mother far too soon, struggles to become a woman without her maternal role model to guide her.

In summation, "Things I Want My Daughters to Know" is a good book to pass a lazy afternoon, but it's not one I'd put on my list of all-time favorites.
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Format: Hardcover
As the once full-of-life Barbara Forbes is being treated for terminal cancer, she begins a journal of things that she wishes to share with her four daughters. She also writes each of her daughters an individual letter to be opened only after her death. There is Lisa, the oldest and most like her, full of life yet stubborn, too; Jennifer, married but obviously unhappy although refusing to talk to anyone about it; Amanda, the daughter who Barbara always considered her "own," as no father was around to raise her; and Hannah, Barbara's late-in-life baby, now left alone with her father, Barbara's grieving and lost second husband, Mark.

The book opens on the day of Barbara's funeral, and so the reader gets to know Barbara only through her writings. The story is told from varying perspectives in turn, including that of Mark in addition to each daughter. Initially, everyone seems to be coping as well as can be expected with Barbara's death (which was anticipated, after all) but it doesn't take long for the delicate surface to begin to give way. Each daugther must wrestle with her own demons, negotiating her own way without her beloved mother for advice and support. Eventually--and with the help of Mark, who plays a crucial role--the family is able to survive their various conflicts and emerge on the dawn side of grief. In the end, the message of this book is a simple one, if a somewhat cliched one: that love conquers all, whether it is a mother's love for her daughters, the love between sisters, or the romantic love that binds two people together forever. Overall, a worthwhile read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Book Girl on May 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
THINGS I WANT MY DAUGHTER TO KNOW, by Elizabeth Noble, is a book to which many women can relate, in one way or another. Telling the story of what happens to four daughters after the death of their mother, Noble uses letters written by the mother before her death and the points of view of each of the four daughters to tell a story about love and healing. As one of three daughters, I found many of the sentiments in the book relatable and common (especially since I read it right around Mother's Day).

If you're looking for a quick read that will make you want to call your mom immediately, this book is it. Several scenes are powerful, including one in which the mother reflects on the four days she gave birth to them. The letters written from Barbara, the mother, are often reflective and more honest than she had been with her daughters previously.

I took issue with this: Though the book is emotional, it feel extremely plot-driven, and much of the interior monologue feels contrived. Every character, in the span of a year after Barbara's death, goes through some extreme incident. In the pages of the book, you're given death of a central character (to start off with), a marriage proposal, a car accident, an affair, a horrible marriage turned good again, a surprise about the true paternity of one of the daughters, a drunken argument that stops communication for a few months, a pregnancy, and a new boyfriend for one of the daughters who just happens to fit in perfectly and fall in love with her immediately. And somehow, after everything, the entire book wraps up perfectly in the end, with everyone feeling somehow resolved about what has happened since the death of Barbara.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Megan L. Bruemmer on May 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. I cried frequently, but in a good, thought-provoking way. I was glad I was on a plane flying home to see my mom when I first started reading the book. She had just lost her mom a couple days before. I think I cried thinking of her pain and cried because I was so grateful than my mom is still with me. She says that she wants to read this book as well, once she has healed a little more.
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